Re: failure of local umbrella groups
From: Cohousing-L listmgr (
Date: Wed, 23 Jul 1997 16:25:26 -0500
Diane Simpson   diane.simpson [at]
is the author of the message below but due to a problem it was posted 
by the Fred the list manager: owner-cohousing-L [at]
********************  FORWARDED MESSAGE FOLLOWS ***********************

The Boston Cohousing Network folded essentially from both a lack of people
and a lack of money, and I don't know what a national organization could
have done to prevent this except to perhaps put together some guidelines
as to what umbrella groups should charge for memberships. It used to cost
$25 a year to belong to BCN and I believe that got you three newsletters a
year and a reduced rate at the meetings. (I think $3.00 for members and
$5.00 for non-members were the suggested rates, but anybody out there who
remembers, feel free to correct me!)  These rock-bottom prices were great
for the people who attended the meetings, but they weren't high enough to
sustain the organization. 

Stella Tarnay and David Gass were running the organization. Stella has
moved on and is now doing consulting work for GreenVillage company and
still does occasional presentations about cohousing. She is also
organizing Roslindale Cohousing. David Gass has joined Cambridge
Cohousing, and their meeting schedule has been pretty intense lately.

A couple of people have come forward and started doing some stuff, but not
on the scale of the old BCN. I maintain a web page entitled "Jamaica Plain
Cohousing"( and I try to keep an updated list of
all the cohousing groups in the Boston area. I organized the group process
and decision-making workshop this spring with Jerry Koch-Gonzalez. In
another month I will be organizing a small foray down to visit Alchemy
Farm Cohousing in Falmouth. I also try to put people in touch with local
cohousing groups if I know of one forming in a particular area. (One thing
I am not very good at is responding quickly to people who ask for mailed

Ann Bruner also came forward and organized a trip last fall to Pioneer
Valley Cohousing, Pomeroy Lane Cooperative, and New View Cohousing. It was
attended by approximately 45 people. 

So, the long answer to the short question is: unless we as a people
(Cohousers, would-be Cohousers, ex-Cohousers) are willing to charge
ourselves dues for the privilege of sustaining a national organization, it
ain't never gonna happen. 

Bob Morrison wrote:
 For example, Boston's umbrella 
group (Boston Cohousing Network) folded a few years ago. This group served a 
wide area in which there was, and is, a lot of cohousing activity.

Rob Sandelin replied:
Why did this group fold? Did it fold from lack of people, or money? How could 
a national organization provide either?
So how would a national organization keep a local umbrella group going?

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